Fed Cattle Recap | Cash prices continue to plummet

Packing plant woes rock the entire beef production chain.

Ed Czerwien, Market Reporter

April 28, 2020

The cash market for fed cattle continued to drop, mostly $5 to $6 per cwt lower for the week ending April 25 with COVID-19 problems closing or slowing packing plants. The result was another big drop in slaughter cattle volume for the week. However, the cash sales volume was much higher than the previous week.  

The Five Area formula sales volume totaled 162,593 head, compared with about 188,000 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 47,106 head, compared with about 16,000 head the previous week. 

Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 44,000 head for the week. The packers have 157,000 head lined up for May. National cash sales for the week included 2,432 head of 15- to 30-day delivery along with 1,144 from the previous week. 

April 28 price graph.png

Now looking at prices, the Five Area weekly weighted average cash steer price for the week ending April 25 was $96.69 per cwt, which was $5.59 lower compared to the previous week. Last year the same week it was $126.69, which was about $2 lower than the week prior.   

The weighted average cash dressed steer price was $154.31 per cwt, which was $2.87 lower. The Five Area weighted average formula price was $169.34, $6.04 lower.

The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest for the week was 469,000 head, which compares with 642,000 head the same week last year, so three weeks of well over 100,000 lower each week than last year.

The latest average national steer carcass weight for the week ending April 11 was 886 pounds, 3 pounds lower than the previous week. That compares with 864 pounds the same week last year, which was 1 pound lower than the previous week. 

The Choice-Select spread was $14.35 on Friday, April 24, compared with $11.79 the previous week and a $13.58 spread last year. 


About the Author(s)

Ed Czerwien

Market Reporter

Ed Czerwien is a market analyst in Amarillo, Texas. From the heart of Cattle Feeding Country, Ed follows the cattle and wholesale markets to keep beef producers up-to-date on the market moves that affect them. He previously worked with USDA as a Market News reporter. Ed is now semi-retired and continues to work with cattle trade analysis.

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